The most common form of terrorism that women face is street harassment. How many times have you had some dickface drive by you and yell something that you couldn’t make out over the din of the Eminem or Insane Clown Posse blaring from his “system” or the buzz of his enhanced exhaust, but were still sure was perverted? How many times have you walked by a group of dudes and had one of them tell you what he’d like to do to you or, worse, grope you? How many times have you had to deal with some asshole looking you up and down and asking, as if he gave a fuck, “How you doin’, girl?” I lost count before I was old enough to drive, as I’m sure most women did.
What is the source of this kind of terrorism? Are these guys all members of terrorist cells that get together and devise ways to make going outside a pain in the ass for women? Unfortunately, I don’t think that’s the case. It would be nice if it was, because then we’d have an easier target, but the roots of this kind of terrorism go deep and it’ll take some serious anti-terror action to shut that kind of shit down. The message of street terrorism, though most of these assholes haven’t thought it through consciously, is, “Woman, what the fuck are you doing outside? You’re making me and my sense of superiority as a male uncomfortable with all your freedom and shit. I want to make sure you know who’s in charge, so I’m going to remind you that I can reduce you to a few body parts with nothing but a poorly-constructed lewd phrase or some grab-ass that you can’t do anything about ‘cuz I’m bigger than you!”
But street terrorism is even more invidious than that. Have you ever heard men talk about their own terroristic activities? The MRA types, with straight faces, often argue that their taunts and their small acts of aggression are compliments, and they actually expect women to be flatterred at having had the opportunity to serve as the victim of an act of terrorism. They thus get to terrorize those women they consider fuckable, and also those they don’t, who they can say aren’t “worthy” of their acts of aggression. In either case, the goal is to make women uncomfortable or to control their behavior when they go outside, which amounts to an attempt to restrict women’s freedom. That sounds pretty un-American to me. This aggression will not stand.
So, what is one to do when one is the victim of street terrorism or sees it inflicted upon someone else? Call the cops? Riiight. When was the last time you sat around and listened to what cops talk about when they get together? I’m pretty sure if you don’t hear the word “pussy” at least five times a minute, there’s one of the, like, five female cops in the universe nearby. I’ve never tried this little experiment, but I may soon and I think you should, just to see if it works: next time you are a witness to or a victim of street terrorism and there’s a cop around, ask him or her to do something about it. If that works, then maybe we can use some of the master’s tools (Haha! Get it? I called cops tools!) to tear down his house, but I’m betting it won’t, and besides, how often is a cop handy when this kind of shit goes down?
I’ve heard a lot of talk about what women should or shouldn’t do in the face of street terrorism, and it usually amounts to, “Don’t say anything back, it may enrage the dude to the point that he’ll get violent.” Bullshit. If these guys weren’t weenies, they wouldn’t be engaging in that kind of shit in the first place. Besides, that threat is just another form of terrorism, isn’t it? “Don’t fight back, or the consequences will be worse! You don’t want to provoke men’s terrible rage!” Balls. The idea that we ought to sit there and take abuse from male strangers without responding because of the threat of more abuse is obscene. I still say that the vast majority of people in the world are decent and will come to the aid of someone who is being victimized, so I recommend that, if there’s a crowd around, you let the terrorist know about himself, come what may.
I think the reaction ought to be commensurate with the offense, but let’s remember that his words have more of an intended impact than most of our retorts are capable of creating, so that doesn’t mean that a reply in kind will always suffice when one is faced with street terrorism. If a terrorist attempts to force you back inside by reducing you to body parts with his words or deeds, you need to respond with something that will have a similar effect on him, something that will make him wish he hadn’t left the house. Let’s say you’re at a bar and some terrorist touches you uninvited. Would touching his wiener teach him a lesson? Not likely. So, let’s get practical. I’ll run through a few situations and provide some possible responses, and I hope people will comment with their own ideas.
- The sitch: guy in car yells lewd comment. The response: if he’s going slow enough, do some damage to his car. If he’s not, get his license plate number and call the cops and tell them you saw him cruising for victims near an elementary school, or that he’s out driving intoxicated and putting the public at risk. If you can get his contact information with his license plate number, do it, and post fliers in his neighborhood about how he likes to verbally terrorize women on the street.
- The sitch: group of guys make rude comments or gestures. The response: this is tricky. It’s not likely that a group of guys will all be comfortable with violence against women, but use your judgment. All things considered, I’d say an appropriate response would be to spit in the face of whoever seems to be the ringleader, then call all of them something really emasculating or make reference to the inadequacy of their wangs. I’ll leave the wit up to you, but I think the spit is key. If you’re a dude and you see some dudes terrorizing a woman, you have one tactic at your disposal that she doesn’t: you can pee upward. Pee on the guy’s pants (I recommend peeing on the shoe for any woman who wants to attempt it, too, but I think it might be easier for dudes). If it seems dangerous to approach the group and you have a car, go get in it and get out your pre-filled Super Soaker full of piss and do a drive-by on them.
- The sitch: dude at bar/party does some uninvited groping. The response: I’d go either with pouring a drink over the guy’s head or a kick. Where to land the kick is up to you, but make sure to draw attention to him. Shame is one of the most effective ways to deal with terrorists. If the guy has to go home because he’s covered in Whisky Dick Pale Ale or because everyone in the bar/at the party saw him get kicked in the nuts and yelled at by some chick, you win.
- The sitch: dude does the head-to-toe sweep and makes gross noise or otherwise irritating comment. The response: men almost never do this when they’re alone, so you have part of your response built right in. If you respond with, “I’d rather drink a glass of cat piss” or something, he’ll be pretty well embarrassed in front of his bros, and he’ll surely think twice before repeating his routine. If he’s alone, or if you’re particularly irritated, toss whatever you’re drinking on him. A face full of Tab is a powerful training tool, and you’ll still get the benefit of shaming him in public, because any bystanders will know exactly what went down.
To be continued…
* Thanks to the esquire for the graphics for this 5 (or 7, or 9, or 3) part series.